Orientation leaders adapt to unique circumstances


Courtesy of Randy Bergeron

2020 Orientation Leaders had to adjust to the university’s first virtually-formatted orientation. The team sill managed to fulfill the vision of connecting students to campus.

The 2020 Orientation Leader Team underwent a one-of-a-kind orientation experience this summer.

In March, the university transitioned to remote learning and operations. In April, the Office of Admissions and the OL Team began changing the Summer Orientation Programs to a virtual format for the first time ever.

Amanda Hammonds, assistant director of orientation and events, described the online methods through which the orientation programs were conducted over the summer for incoming Lions.

“Orientations over this past summer we did over Moodle, and if a student ran into any issues, they would join our Zoom,” said Hammonds. “Our Zoom was basically constantly running from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., so they could jump on, join us whenever.”

For a typical orientation, leaders are paired up and assigned a color. Students who register for orientation are also assigned a color and matched up with two OLs and a group of students. Hammonds mentioned that the team was able to maintain part of that aspect for the virtual version of orientation.

“Our OLs were still emailing students, ‘Hey, I’m your Orientation Leader. Let me know if you have any questions,’” said Hammonds. “They even sent students a postcard. So, we still had that personal touch that we were able to do in previous years, so that was very important to us. We still wanted those little details that really make Southeastern what it is.”

Faith Wolverton, a sophomore nursing major, said she decided to be an OL because she remembered her OL’s impact on her incoming freshman experience and wanted to help others in the same way. She described her experience this year and what she gained from the abnormal circumstances.

“My team showed resilience, and we were still able to help incoming Southeastern students to the best of our abilities,” expressed Wolverton. “Personally, the experience has grown me in many ways that I didn’t expect me to be grown. It has taught me resilience, patience, new leadership skills and, most of all, how to roll with the punches and make the most of something.”

Taylor Rivera, a sophomore management major, expressed similar reasoning behind her decision to apply for an OL position—inspiration from her freshman OL and to help others.

“I loved being an OL,” shared Rivera. “It was such an amazing experience, and I have made so many connections with students and other people. Even though our experience was different and not expected, we still made the most of it and had as much fun as we could.”

Brent Webb, a sophomore business administration major, decided to put his people skills to work for the purpose of mentoring incoming students.

“I have enjoyed every ounce of my experience as a 2020 Orientation Leader,” shared Webb. “I have made many long-lasting connections, while also guiding students through the tough process of transitioning from high school to college, which I believe was an even harder transition this year due to COVID-19. The job was tougher, but I enjoyed every bit of work that we put in together.”

Wolverton expressed gratitude and admiration for the OL Team this year, even though they were unable to have the in-person experience.

“As far as actual events go, we definitely missed out on a lot of experiences,” said Wolverton. “However, we were able to make the most out of the experience we were given, and I learned so much.”

Webb expressed a similar sentiment, and viewed the situation with optimism.

“Trials and tribulations are a beautiful part of life,” claimed Webb. “The toughest circumstances make for the greatest lessons. I feel I have become more patient, better with time, and I feel I have grown as an overall leader.”

Hammonds felt that this year’s group of OLs deserve to be recognized. She explained that she reached out to the students who participated in the Summer Orientation Programs and asked them to provide feedback for their leaders.

“We surprised them with all of that feedback,” said Hammonds. “It was some beautiful words that they said about, just you know, ‘Thank you to my OL,’ because even though it was not in person, they still did a great job at connecting them to campus.”

Hammonds encouraged students to get involved on campus.

“I want students to apply, but more importantly, I want to encourage students to challenge themselves, to push themselves to be a better student, and to do that, you’ve got to get involved,” expressed Hammonds.

The application to become an Orientation Leader is always active. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Orientation Leader Team is Oct. 16.